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Hubble Ultra-Deep Field region observed through the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer. Image: ESO / MUSE HUDF collaboration

Astronomers working with the Very Large Telescope in Chile have surveyed a patch of the sky and detected 72 new galaxies never seen before.

What's new: Beginning in 2004, the Hubble Space Telescope delivered detailed pictures of a patch of sky that now bears its name — the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field is a view nearly 13 billion years back into the early universe. Using the Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) instrument, researchers again looked at this well-studied region and found 72 new galaxies and collected more information about 1,600 of the estimated 10,000 galaxies there. (The existence of the new galaxies needs to be confirmed, possibly by the James Webb Space Telescope when it launches next year.)

How they did it: MUSE measures the amount of different colors of light in every pixel of an image, allowing it to detect properties of galaxies not seen before. Two findings from 10 papers published today in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics:

  • The 72 candidate galaxies emit only one color of light called Lyman-alpha. It's unclear how these galaxies form but studying them will help to better understand how they created stars in the early universe.
  • They also observed halos of hydrogen gas around some of the galaxies that may help to explain how the ingredients for galaxies come together.

Go deeper

10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.

A new Washington

Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Getty Image

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Friday that the city should expect a "new normal" for security — even after President-elect Biden's inauguration.

The state of play: Inaugurations are usually a point of celebration in D.C., but over 20,000 troops are now patrolling Washington streets in an unprecedented preparation for Biden's swearing-in on Jan. 20.

Mike Pence calls Kamala Harris to offer congratulations and help

Mike Pence. Photo: Chip Somodevilla via Getty

Vice President Mike Pence called Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Thursday to congratulate her and offer assistance in the transition, the New York Times first reported.

Why it matters: The belated conversation came six days before the inauguration after a contentious post-election stretch. President Trump has neither spoken with President-elect Joe Biden, nor explicitly conceded the 2020 election.